30% Club & Imperial Award Female Business Leaders with New Scholarships

Laura Singleton, Communications and Public Affairs, Imperial College London

Imperial has presented two MBA students with a new scholarship designed to encourage more women to undertake postgraduate business education.

The scholarships, worth £20,000, were awarded to incoming Executive MBA students Julie Driscoll, who is a Portfolio Director at the i2i Events Group and Jennifer Chung, a Senior Manager, Programme and Project Management at Accenture. The scholarships have been created by Imperial College Business School in partnership with the 30% Club, whose goal is to see women comprising 30% of FTSE-100 Board members. The initiative is aimed at encouraging more women into executive leadership roles in business through education.

The students were presented with their awards at a networking event at KPMG last night, organised by the 30% Club and Women Ahead, a social enterprise that supports the development of women in sport and business. The event was attended by around 200 industry leaders who are taking part in the 30% Club’s mentoring programme.

The awards were presented by Professor George Yip, Associate Dean for Executive Programmes at Imperial College Business School.  He said: “There remains a real challenge in increasing the number of women at executive level in industry. This contradicts the enormous strides that women are making in business and society.  I hope these scholarships will encourage more women to achieve their career ambitions.”

The scholarships are awarded to women who can demonstrate both depth and breadth of work experience as well as academic excellence and high potential for senior leadership roles. They must also demonstrate the intention to act as role models for other women.

Julie Driscoll has over 12 years’ experience leading UK and international teams. She spent 13 years working as an actress and then moved into media and event management. Currently she is the Portfolio Director at i2i Events Group and manages a £12 million Profit & Loss. In 2012 she was voted best Events Director, from a majority male shortlist, by the Exhibition News Awards. Driscoll has promoted flexible working options to female staff including support for staff returning from maternity leave.  She is also part of the i2i Women’s Network and hopes to launch a “Girls as Leaders” organisation after completing  her Executive MBA at Imperial.

Commenting on her scholarship win, Julie said: “I’m extremely proud to have won this award. I’ve always been passionate about women being able to achieve their dreams in business and this award aligns with my desire for workplaces to be more inclusive, dynamic and creative. If more women are to succeed in business, then girls need to be presented with strong role models from an early age. I chose to do my video interview for my Executive MBA application outside my 13 year old daughter’s school. I am hoping that my win will inspire her and her peers to aspire to leadership positions in their future careers.”

Fellow scholarship winner Jennifer Chung’s expertise is in technology consultancy, business development and project management. She has held senior management positions at Cisco and Accenture, working in different locations including the USA, Hong Kong and UK. Jennifer has worked as a mentor on the Women in Leadership Programme at Cisco and she champions greater diversity, particularly in empowering young women to aim for senior leadership positions in the innovation and technology sector.

Jennifer said: “I was absolutely thrilled to be awarded the scholarship with Imperial’s Executive MBA programme and am very excited to be a partner with both Imperial’s and 30% Club’s goal for more women in executive and board level leadership. I look forward to bringing what I learn from the programme into my career and volunteer work. This is for me, a launch pad to inspire and journey alongside other women as we all work together to bring greater diversity and strength into leadership.”

Diane Morgan, Associate Dean of Programmes, Imperial College Business School said: “I’m pleased to congratulate Julie and Jennifer for being chosen as the first recipients of this prestigious award. At Imperial College Business School we seek to challenge the current under-representation of women pursuing post-graduate business education and the lack of women who hold senior director roles within corporations. As well as helping these two exceptional women to pursue their business education goals, I hope these scholarships will encourage more women to pursue an Executive MBA qualification and realise their potential in high level roles within industry.”

Brenda Trenowden, Head of Financial Institutions, Europe and Head of Banks & DF Americas at ANZ, and Global Chair of the 30% Club, said: “We are delighted to be working with Imperial College Business School on this initiative. Women and men both perceive their greatest barrier to graduate management education to be financial resources. However, as the data shows, women have less work experience, lower household income, greater undergraduate debt, and are less likely to rely on personal savings. As such, the financial barriers for women are perceived to be more onerous than those for men, which is why scholarships of this kind can really make a difference in terms of developing women’s potential.”